This version enhances the game greatly, as documented by the huge changelog below. It has been held back for a long time by a problem of the bootable version for the Amiga CD³² (which is why it is still a beta). The owners of such machine can help. For details, please see the readme file in the package.
Like all the RETREAM games, SkillGrid can be downloaded freely, with the kind request of offering some help to the victims of Putin's attack to Ukraine.
1. Fixed the asteroids activation (they could activate also after a reset of their timer, e.g. when they were postponed and, in the meanwhile, a milestone was reached).
2. Fixed the milestone handling (it replenished the shield and the charge in those extremely rare occasions when the ship had just been destroyed, preventing the game over to execute).
3. Fixed the assignment of points when the MUSIC MODE cell was caught while the Boltspitter was active (25 instead of 5 points were awarded).
4. Fixed the audio decompression routine (due to forgetfulness, 1 byte was not changed in one of the two routines involved; that caused noise during playback, but "luckily" the effects with SkillGrid's own music were not audible; in fact, the bug was discovered when the PRESS PLAY ON TAPE Edition was made; also, due to INTREQ.AUD0 being used for multiple purposes, the very last tiny chunk of one-shot music was not played).
5. Fixed the dynamic selection of audio channels (under some rare circumstances, it could steal a channel from music).
6. Fixed the rendering of the halt sign (it processed 18 lines instead of 6).
7. Fixed a data file (it contained about 3 kB of useless data).
8. Fixed the (potential) malfunctioning caused by hiscore saving when the game booted from CD on an Amiga CD³² configured to have nonvolatile.library save data on a device other than NVRAM (i.e. when there is a volume that has Prefs/Env-Archive/Sys/nv_location defined). See also the notes below about hiscore saving.
9. Fixed/improved/updated the manual (in particular: in one place it erroneously said that the scrolling speed is halved when the Skull activates, which is false; it failed to mention that the TURN cells award 25 points in music mode).
10. Changed the BRAKE cell type from bonus to undefined (as it has a negative effect when time is running out, given that it delays the appearance of cells, and thus also of the TIME cell); graphically, now the cell has a yellow border.
11. Changed the BOOST cell type from malus to undefined (as it has a positive effect when time is running out, given that it accelerates the appearance of cells, and thus also of the TIME cell); graphically, now the cell has a cyan border.
12. Replaced the 30 seconds grace period at the beginning of a game with progressive introduction of the various cells types (this makes for a gentler introduction for beginners and allows to improve/maximize the spaceship power and thus be ready for what will follow).
13. Added the TRIPLE BEAM cell.
14. Changed the look of caught cells so that they appear disabled (instead of flat-filled).
15. Tweaked the transparency of cells when asteroids, Mothership, Skull and music mode are active to preserve their double-color look even if painted in a single color.
16. Fixed one pixel of the POINTS BONUS cell.
17. Made background layer more vivid (but still not obtrusive).
18. Changed flash color when the Boltspitter activates from green ($00ff00) to orange ($ff8000).
19. Improved the sprites:
· modified the palette to make sprites more vibrant and distinguishable;
· added 8 new UFO sprites;
· reworked spaceship, Boltspitter, Morthership and Skull graphics;
· reworked game start, pause and game over writings/icons.
20. Improved the music:
· changed a few volumes for a better mix;
· compressed the bass instrument a little bit;
· increased the S/N ratio by means of the changes above and by reducing some peaks (without causing any distortion);
· lowered by an octave the bass instrument in the "danger" tune;
· improved the compression algorithm for a better compression ratio;
· made the decompression routine faster;
· assigned to the Boltspitter the same tune of the other bosses;
· assigned the "danger" tune (previously assigned to the Boltspitter) to asteroids and missiles.
21. Improved the sound samples:
· removed clicks from a few of them;
· shortened a few of them;
· reworked the explosion sound;
· added the "charge low" speech warning.
22. Added cycling writings (including hiscore) to the title screen.
23. Touched up the graphics of 'M' and 'W' everywhere.
24. Improved the controls:
· replaced [REWIND] with [FIRE2]/[BLUE] so that also a normal 2-button joystick can be used;
· added support for [FIRE2] also to the installable version (which is crucial for running it on Amiga CD³² consoles that do not have a keyboard);
· added keyboard support (i.e. now the cursor keys act as joystick directions and [SPACE] as [FIRE1]).
25. Improved file loading so that, when the game is not running from floppies, the SkillGrid?: assigns and the launcher script are no longer needed.
26. Trashed AmigaOS on the Amiga CD³² to gain the RAM necessary to run the game (which requires more RAM than before, and unfortunately at boot the Amiga CD³² kernel steals quite a lot of RAM); as a consequence:
· removed the possibility of quitting to AmigaOS;
· hiscores are saved exclusively to NVRAM (i.e. Prefs/Env-Archive/Sys/nv_location is ignored);
· implemented direct EEPROM access routines to save the hiscore to NVRAM (still, the NVRAM slot is allocated legally and nothing is touched outside of it; as a positive side effect, saving is now much faster). [This feature is disabled - see the beta release notice.]
27. Improved hiscore saving:
· restricted it to just when a new hiscore is made;
· reduced by 6 bytes the occupation in the Amiga CD³² (tiny) NVRAM.
28. Worked on the CD ISO image:
· minimized buffers (to gain RAM);
· laid out files/directories in a manner that will hopefully make the loading faster on the Amiga CD³²;
· added readme.txt to the root directory;
· added printable package artwork and documentation.
29. Made the startup and cleanup code more robust and more likely to succeed in low CHIP RAM situations.
30. Made various speed and memory optimizations.
31. Adapted the game to 3 floppies (unfortunately, due to the additional data, it cannot fit in 2 floppies anymore).
32. Added a strategy guide.
33. Improved the readme.txt files.
34. Worked on icons:
· added icons to all the user-relevant files/directories;
· redrawn / touched up the icons;
· made all icons 72 pixels tall;
· removed paths from the default tools where appropriate.
35. Updated/improved the installer.
36. Removed the "wd" bits from the files on floppies.
37. Reworked the package artwork.